Philadelphia Water Department

Chapter 2 - Submission, Review, and Approval Procedures

2.1 Existing Resources and Site Analysis

2.1 Existing Resources and Site Analysis

Every new regulated project, regardless of its Review Path, begins with the submission of the Existing Resources and Site Analysis (ERSA) Application to Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) Stormwater Plan Review. Section 2.1 describes the ERSA Application, lists all ERSA Application Submission Package components, and details the submission process. Furthermore, this section assists the applicant in determining their project’s applicable Review Path, which is a necessary step in the completion of an ERSA Application.

2.1.1 ERSA Application

The ERSA Application is the first submission for all projects that require PWD Stormwater Plan Review approval or exemption. The development of the ERSA Application requires the applicant to identify existing project site features, describe the proposed development site, identify all applicable PWD Stormwater Regulations (Stormwater Regulations), and determine the appropriate Review Path for the project. PWD Stormwater Plan Review uses the ERSA Application to define the existing conditions of the project site, to confirm the project’s applicability within, or exemption from, the Stormwater Regulations, and to confirm the project’s Review Path with the applicant. The applicant must note that design decisions that may occur after submission of the ERSA Application may impact a project’s applicability to, or exemption from, the Stormwater Regulations, as well as the project’s Review Path. If major changes are made to the project after the applicant submits an ERSA Application, the applicant must contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review to determine if a revised ERSA Application is needed before proceeding.

ERSA Application Submission Package Components

A complete ERSA Application Submission Package consists of the following components:

Figure 2.1-1: ERSA Application Submission Package Components Checklist

Submission Package Components Checklist
  ERSA Worksheet
  Site Photographs
  Existing Conditions Plan
  Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package*

* Refer to Section 2.3 for Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package Requirements by Review Path

ERSA Worksheet
  • The applicant must complete an online ERSA Worksheet on the PWD Stormwater Plan Review website. The online worksheet provides interactive guidance to assist the applicant in providing all required project, contact, and owner information. For reference, a static version of the ERSA Worksheet is included on the Stormwater Plan Review Resources page.
  • The online ERSA Worksheet guides the applicant through the process of determining the project’s Review Path. Detailed information on determining a project’s Review Path is included in Section 2.1.2.
  • If the applicant intends for the project to be considered for an Expedited PCSMP Review or a stormwater management based zoning height or density bonus, this intent is declared as part of the ERSA Worksheet. The applicant is referred to Section 2.4 for more information on Expedited PCSMP Reviews and Section 2.6 for zoning bonuses.
Site Photographs

A minimum of one color photograph from each accessible face of the parcel(s) looking into the site is required. The applicant is encouraged to submit additional photos as needed to best illustrate project site conditions to PWD Stormwater Plan Review.

Existing Conditions Plan

The Existing Conditions Plan contains information regarding the predevelopment state of the project site (i.e., site conditions at the time of ERSA Application). Proposed site and stormwater improvements are not depicted on the Existing Conditions Plan, as these are shown on the Conceptual Stormwater Management Plan. The specific requirements for Existing Conditions Plans are shown in Appendix E, Table E-2: Existing Conditions Plan Requirements. Existing Conditions Plans must also meet all PWD general plan sheet requirements listed in Appendix E, Table E-1: General Plan Sheet Requirements.

Redevelopment projects that propose modifications to an existing project area that was subject to Stormwater Regulations are advised to contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review as early as possible in the design process to ensure the redevelopment will not impede regulatory compliance of the existing project. Even if no modifications are proposed to an existing SMP, changes in cover type, such as converting area that was previously constructed as landscape to hardscape, can have significant impacts on the site’s regulatory compliance. Applicants who are unsure whether their project site was previously subject to Stormwater Regulations may contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review for guidance.

Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package

Requirements of a Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package differ based on a project’s Review Path. The applicant must first determine the project’s Review Path, using Section 2.1.2, and then is referred to Section 2.3 for Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package requirements.

Submission Process

The ERSA Application submission is initiated online through PWD’s Stormwater Plan Review website. The online form guides the applicant through the ERSA Application submission process and allows the applicant to upload all necessary digital files: site photos, Existing Conditions Plan, and other plans required as part of the Conceptual Review Phase Submission Package.

Once projects are initiated online, a project tracking number is assigned, which is used by the applicant and PWD to track the review process as it proceeds. The applicant must reference this project tracking number for all subsequent submissions.

Throughout the submission process, the applicant is invited to contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review for assistance.

2.1.2 Determining Project Review Path

The path to obtaining a PWD Stormwater Plan Review approval varies depending on project characteristics. Determining whether an approval is required, and, if so, which of the four Review Paths is applicable, represents a critical step for every project and must be completed by the applicant prior to submission of an ERSA Application.

The applicant must identify the following three project characteristics to determine the appropriate review and submission requirements. These characteristics, used along with Figure 2.1-2 below, allow the applicant to determine the Review Path for their project. The applicant must input these characteristics when filling out the online ERSA Worksheet as part of the ERSA Application.

  1. Development Type - Projects fall into one of four development types: New Development, Redevelopment, Demolition, or Stormwater Retrofit. The applicant is referred to Section 1.1.1 for the complete definition of each development type. A project falls into only one development type. If an applicant is uncertain which development type best defines a project, they can contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review for additional guidance.
  2. Watershed - Seven major watersheds exist in Philadelphia: Darby and Cobbs Creeks Watershed, Delaware Direct Watershed, Lower Schuylkill River Watershed, Pennypack Creek Watershed, Poquessing Creek Watershed, Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed, and Wissahickon Creek Watershed. The applicant is referred to Section 1.1.2 for more information on watersheds and to Appendix D for Watershed Maps. The applicant can also determine their watershed online or contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review for verification.
  3. Earth Disturbance - PWD must review any project whose earth disturbance exceeds 5,000 square feet to ensure that an Erosion and Sediment Control (E&S) Plan has been prepared in accordance with Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection guidelines (Section 2.3). In addition, PWD must ensure that the limit of disturbance is correctly delineated and that the project is not part of a larger phased development that will trigger additional Stormwater Regulations.

    There are some earth disturbance activities that do not require post-construction stormwater management and/or should not be counted toward the regulatory threshold for triggering the Stormwater Regulations. The applicant is referred to Section 1.1.3 for more information on earth disturbance.

After answering these questions, the applicant can use Figure 2.1-2 to determine a project’s Review Path. Review Paths are color-coded throughout Chapter 2.

Figure 2.1-2: Project Review Path Determination Flow Chart

After determining a Review Path, the applicant can proceed to Section 2.2 and Section 2.3 to learn more about the requirements and Review Phases of their project’s Review Path. The applicant should review these Sections before final submission of their ERSA Application, as the ERSA Application submission will occur concurrently with the Conceptual Review Phase Submission.

If unable to determine the appropriate Review Path, the applicant should contact PWD Stormwater Plan Review.

TOP Manual Version: 3.1